community

The Power of Community, at #FinCon17 — and Everywhere Else

We’ve just returned home from FinCon, the financial blogger conference, and we’re every bit as exhausted as we thought we’d be. Not only because FinCon itself involves close to no sleep, but because we went into it already tired from the lead-up to the reveal and everything else going on right now. It’s hard to believe that all of this has happened just last week:

  • We unmasked ourselves
  • We were featured in MONEY (which spread to MSN)
  • We were featured in MarketWatch (which spread to Yahoo Finance)
  • I appeared on ChooseFI
  • I participated in the Playing with FIRE documentary shoot
  • I recorded two episodes of The Fairer Cents with Kara
  • We went to FinCon and spent time with loads of people we love and are inspired by
  • … and one more thing (keep reading!)

But as tired as I am, I returned home with a full heart and loads of inspiration. Everything that happened last week was a huge reminder of the power of community, both in and out of formal events like FinCon. And it’s clear to me that one of the things I most want to do in retirement is create more opportunities for community-building, with special attention to including non-bloggers and women in FI (financial independence).

But let’s talk about FinCon!

FinCon17 recap, FinCon Expo, Financial Bloggers Conference, Our Next Life, ournextlife.com

Psst! Check out my recap of #FinCon16.

The Sheraton Dallas was the home of FinCon17, and it had two of my favorite features of any hotel: huge suites we could get upgraded to, and a club lounge with no bouncer!

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Big enough that Kara and Jess could do carpet angels

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I was proud to encourage the club lounge food hoarders

I know I’ll lose my fancy hotel status soon, when we stop traveling for work, so I want to share the wealth with as many people as possible in the limited time I have. That means I brought tons of people into the lounge for breakfast each day and snacks throughout the day. Bless you, Sheraton, for not posting a name checker at the door like Marriotts do.

The Sessions

I had two sessions on the calendar this year, which were super different: The first was as a participant on the FIRE panel, and the second was as the leader of a panel I pitched on broadening your audience.

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The FIRE panel had several perspectives represented – military early retirement with pension and health care, “traditional” early retirement with mostly index investing (me), early retirement with all real estate, and early retirement with a mix of investments and real estate. And while I don’t know this for sure, it’s possible that I was asked to be on the panel because I’m a woman, and the organizers felt they needed that. In the past, I would have felt icky about being the token on a panel (though in this case, my friend Gwen was also on the panel with me), but something my friend Liz (you know her as Mrs. Frugalwoods) told me has really stuck with me: “Be the token, and bring a friend.” And now I’m all about that. It doesn’t matter if someone invites me for the wrong reason. I’m going to say yes, and find ways to open that opportunity up to other women or underrepresented people. And all of that said, it’s also entirely possible they invited me for me. 😉

FinCon Expo 2017, #fincon17, Broadening your audience panel

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The second panel was the one I led, and included Jessica Moorhouse, Kara Perez, Liz from Frugalwoods and Jim Wang from Wallet Hacks. We had some lively discussion about different approaches to moderating comments to make people feel welcome, and about noticing the subtle signals that your site might be sending that tell particular audience segments that you’re not speaking to them (coming across as a know-it-all and judging some decisions as dumb being two biggies).

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My favorite post-panel tweet was Adam’s, which I think means I did not suck. 😉

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I only managed to attend one other breakout session during the conference, on monetizing your podcast (I’ll prepare you guys now: The Fairer Cents has a sponsor, but it’s a totally great one), which was great.

And of the main stage speakers, my favorite was Nicole Walters, who has incredible stage presence.

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She reminded us all that, if we’re undermonetized, our blogs are just expensive hobbies. Her exact words: “Our Next Life is suuuuuper undermonetized, y’all! Go tell them what an expensive hobby that is!”

WELCOME TO MY EXPENSIVE HOBBY!

Mr. 1500 didn’t listen. He just drank beer.

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Playing with FIRE Documentary

In my work, I’ve spent plenty of time behind the camera and arranging productions, but I’ve never really been on camera before (the time I appeared on Good Morning America to talk about crying over a panda notwithstanding), and certainly not to speak as an “expert.” So I knew it would be a new experience when the guys behind the Playing with FIRE documentary asked me to be a part of their influencer roundtable, along with rad FI folks like JD Roth, Brandon the Mad Fientist, Mr. 1500 and of course Liz. (And this is one of those “be the token and be a friend” moments – Liz suggested they ask me, though so did Brad from ChooseFI and a few others.)

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FI Community Love

There is lots of great substance on offer at FinCon, but I know I’m not alone in saying that the real point of the conference is getting time to spend with like-minded friends. And for us, that meant maxing out our time with FI friends old and new. In addition to hanging with the bigger name bloggers at the documentary shoot, I loved all the casual time with FI friends new and old.

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Frugalwoods, Mad Fientist, Our Next Life -- at the Playing with Fire shoot

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Carl is not to be trusted. Though he’s pretty fast when properly motivated.

Time With My Fave Ladies

Probably my favorite part of FinCon was just having lots of time to chat with so many of my favorite women. From the ones whose pictures I can’t share (Maggie, Kate, Revanche, Felicity, Mrs. Adventure Rich) to the ones you may know very well from PF blogland, I loved being surrounded by kick-ass ladies who are putting incredible content out into the world. And it was equal parts serious and silly, from talking about taking our work to the next level, to dancing like the world is ending at the final party and breaking into spontaneous yoga in the club lounge.

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Recording The Fairer Cents with Kara

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Recording with a ghost version of Stefanie O’Connell (thanks for the pic, J!)

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Mastermind love

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Other mastermind love (with Cait crashing the party)

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Ladies Slack group at FinCon17

Our rad blogging Slack group (minus Little Green Revelation, who we wish had been there!)

I didn’t get pics with Alyssa, Penny, and a bunch of other rad women I was thrilled to meet for the first time, but you’re all in my heart big time. Especially those who got down to “Pony” with me at the party at The Rustic.

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The Plutus Awards 2017 (AKA Alllllll the Ladies)

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I was super stoked that so many women were finalists for the Plutus Awards this year, along with lots of guys whose work I love. And no offense to the boys, but the women crushed it this year!

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Cait Flanders won best minimalism blog

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Desirae Odjick of Half Banked won best international blog

A whole bunch of newer women bloggers were recognized, too, including my friends Bitches Get Riches and the Feminist Financier.

My second favorite part of the ceremony was when Mindy from 1500 Days went up to accept the award Bigger Pockets won for best real estate blog, and the audience broke out in “Happy Birthday.” It was a spontaneous surprise for her, and she loved it.

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But my favorite part of the ceremony was when it was time to announce the best FIRE blog, and I had my camera aimed at Brandon and Carl, thinking one of them would surely take it and I’d be ready to snap the pic, only to hear “Our Next Life” announced.

Plutus Awards finalists for best financial independence/FIRE blog

I’m super proud of everything I’ve done with the blog this year, but I did not expect to win, not even a little bit. (As I later told Mark, “If I’d known I might have to go up on that stage, I would have taken a shower today!”)

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So needless to say, I displayed less than zero chill, and acted like a complete spazz when I went up to get the trophy. But I regret nothing. It was an incredible moment, and I’m still beaming from it. Thank you to everyone who nominated ONL, and to everyone on the panel who voted for us! #allthegoldstars

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My two mastermind groups (plus one more possibly defunct group) completely cleaned up in the finalist nominations, with every single still-active blogger receiving at least one nomination, and several receiving two or more. (Yay Cait, Jess, Kara, Liz, Erin, Kristin, J. and Gwen!) And my writing-specific group did especially well, with three of us winning!

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Tanja from Our Next Life, Erin Lowry from Broke Millennial, Liz Thames from Frugalwoods

The ceremony ended with a wrap-up to The Office spoof they’d created, and an appearance by a pretty fellow who apparently was on American Idol at some point, who probably very few of us cord cutters recognized.

Mad Fientist at the Plutus Awards at FinCon17

Pretty sure Brandon’s just wondering when the bar opens

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The Final Party

The closing night party was a costume party, and some folks threw down on costumes, while others (like us) went simple because we couldn’t waste luggage space on a costume when we knew we’d need to haul home all that swag. (And after winning a very large VR headset in the Plutus Awards gift bag, plus the trophy itself, I was feeling extra smart for that decision!) So we dressed as…

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Our former selves!

There were a ton of great costumes, but even more great dancing. I have a new theory that reaching financial independence is positively correlated with dancing like no one’s watching.

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Carl (Mr. 1500) learned there’s no escaping me when there’s a prank involved. “Trouble” is a label I’m proud to earn. ;-)

My Big Takeaway // All About the Community

I absolutely credit the FinCon experience last year with helping me take ONL to the next level, and I have no doubt that lots of folks in our community will have that same experience coming out of their first FinCon this year. Because you can’t help but come away from it all feeling super inspired – inspired by the ideas you pick up throughout the session, by the wonderful community spirit, and by the generosity of the most successful bloggers to share what they know.

My small takeaways include that it’s way better to be able to be un-anonymous at these things (though it’s better to be anonymous than not to attend), and that it always pays to bring way more food than you think you’ll need. And the small takeaway that I hope others left with is to be unafraid of charting your own course. Don’t try to do what others are doing but better. Do something that’s entirely your own, share your story in real ways, show your vulnerability, be willing to go long.

The big takeaway that I left with is that I want to focus a bunch of energy in early retirement in bringing more people together. Some of that may be in collaboration with others, some of it may be totally behind the scenes, and some of it will be stuff I organize like FI meetups we organize on our travels. But there will definitely be more to share on this subject – stay tuned!

Community Outside of Events

I saw lots of FOMO tweets from folks who weren’t able to go to FinCon, and while I certainly understand (that was me when I missed what could have been my first FinCon, in Charlotte), it made me want to say as strongly and clearly as I can:

We do not need big organized events to engage with our community.

There are so many ways we can all engage together, and I really can’t overstate the value of doing so. Getting to meet other FIers in real life has made our plan better, and it’s just so wonderful to have friends around whom you can be your full self, money nerdiness and all. Best of all, you don’t have to blog at all to find other people. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Email bloggers whose work you connect with, especially if you know they live nearby. We’ve made several good friends this way.
  • Start a Twitter account as your FI persona so you can interact with folks and they have a way to contact you, but without the heavy lift of starting a blog.
  • Comment on blogs whose other commenters you feel most simpatico with, and reference your Twitter handle in your name (so people can find you and connect with you).
  • Create local FI meetups in your area and advertise them on Meetup or Craigslist.
  • Attend the proliferation of FI-related camps popping up all over the country. (Or create your own!)
  • Join the Rockstar Finance forums (open to non-bloggers, and friendlier than some other forums out there).

Keep an eye out next year for more ways folks can connect that we’ll be creating and supporting. And let us know in the comments what other ideas you have!

Your Turn!

Alright guys, time to chime in! If you attended FinCon, what was your favorite part? Your biggest takeaway? If you missed it this year, will you attend next year? Look for other opportunities to connect with folks? For non-bloggers, what’s the way you’d most like to connect with others in the FI space, so I can help make that happen? Let’s chat about it all in the comments!

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134 replies »

  1. Tanja, I was asked to propose members of the FIRE panel. I nominated you and Gwen because of where you were in your FIRE journeys and because I knew you’d have great commentary.

    Ironically, because of all the stellar nominees, I barely made the final cut. I suspect it was more because of my experience than my ponytail.

    FinCon has grown pretty big over the years, but I can remember the early days when PT was concerned about finding enough audience members– let alone enough speakers. These days people who feel as though they’re on the outside looking in should pitch a presentation, volunteer for a panel, or volunteer to help with the setup. Or write stuff that people want to hear you speak about on the stage.

    FinCon has been a crowdsourced conference even before there was a crowd.

    • So great to do the panel with you, Nords! I appreciate the invite, and thought we had a nice mix of perspectives represented. If anything, it would have been nice to have two hours instead of 50 minutes! (Though I think you definitely got ponytail points.) ;-) And I completely second folks pitching ideas and volunteering — the perception of “insiders” and “outsiders” is just not true, as folks who’ve attended can now attest to! ;-)

  2. I’m on a FinCon high and definitely do not look forward to booting up my computer for my “real job” in 30 minutes ;)

    The connections and community at FinCon are hands down the most valuable part for me. The support, encouragement and just plain crazy fun was incredible.

    It was so nice to meet you and spend some time this week! Thank you for generously opening up your suite for the after-party crashers ;)

    And I agree with Adam- you should just go ahead and moderate all discussions going forward.

    Cheers!
    Mrs. Adventure Rich

    • I hope your re-entry today hasn’t been too tough! :-) I loved your recap, and definitely understand that overwhelmed feeling! You were one of my favorite new folks to have met, so looking forward to scheming other meetup opportunities. ;-) Rest up that throat!

    • YES! There were a lot of us who get those AARP mailings at FinCon! I was pleasantly surprised by that and even more surprised by how it didn’t matter one bit! I’d be the first to say that newer bloggers can take away a great deal by joining in at FinCon. Hope you’ll join us there next year Mr. FF!

    • Thank you! There were truly folks of all ages! And you know my whole deal: Any day before age 65 counts as early in my book! ;-)

      • So “on message,” Doug! ;-) I’m guessing that folks 50+ at FinCon feel a little like we feel at Coachella… older than the average, but still having a blast. ;-)

  3. CONGRATULATIONS! You definitely deserved best FI blog! One of the things I love about your blog and your writing style so much is that you always bring a huge dose of perspective to every topic you discuss (and for that reason I’d say Adam’s tweet was very well-founded!) You’re never too obsessed with your own navel. And although I know you don’t mean to be self-depreciating exactly, I think it’s safe to say that everything you got invited to do was for your own merit and not as a “token”. Just because you’ve been anonymous does not mean you have not been noticed. Your refreshing mix of realism and optimism, your strong female voice in what has been a predominately male blogosphere (although I think that’s starting to change and no offense to the guys out there) and the professional skills you bring with you all combine to make you stand out from the crowd in a big, beautiful way. Keep on rocking it! Cheers!

    • Thank you so much, Rachael! I so appreciate all of your kind words. :-) (Though I know I go pretty far down the navel sometimes, too…) ;-) And one of the best parts of FinCon for me this year was seeing how many women there are in all the blog niches, but including in FI! I was so pleased to see lots of ladies repping it there!

  4. Thanks for the (very visual) summary of Fincon17, great to have a bit of a feel of how it was. Does make me want to give it a go in the future (too bad we are on the other side of the pond = very expensive plain tickets and little to no travel hacking).
    That being said, we are getting together ourselves (40 of us) next week in Eindhoven, the Netherlands for a mini version of what you just did. It’s our 4th time we are getting together and it’s always been a blast!

    • Yes, the visual summary of FinCon is apt, because it’s all a blur. ;-) Hahahaha. I love that you all get together locally, and think that’s perfect! FinCon is wonderful, but it’s certainly not necessary for forming meaningful connections! Have a great gathering.

    • The beer DID find a good home! ;-) So glad you guys could both make it — please tell Courtney that getting down on the dancefloor with her multiple times was one of my top highlights. ;-)

  5. Congratulations on your big win! Your blog is amazing, and I can’t wait to see how it develops now that you are no longer anonymous.

    Always interesting to hear about FinCon. I’m an introvert so not huge into giant conferences, but have always thought that might be the one I’d enjoy, just to get to talk money and independence. One of these days (as FI gets closer and my time frees up a bit) I hope to join twitter and maybe even start a blog so I can get more involved in the community. I’ll be watching for ways to connect!

    • Thanks so much! :-D The great thing about FinCon is that a LOT of the folks there are introverted big time, so understand that set of tendencies 100%. But I also think lots of them attest to the fact that it’s worth it and it’s the easiest place to fake it like an extrovert. ;-) (I always think of myself as highly ambiverted, and able to act extroverted in limited bursts, but at FinCon I find it easy to be an extrovert the whole time, which I think says something!) Please let me know if/when you start a Twitter and/or blog!

  6. It sounds like you had lots of fun and learned a lot. I heard about ONL after party(ies?) that were poppin’. Too bad I missed it.

    I do agree with Liz, that it’s ok to be a token and bring a friend, and maybe 2…next time.

    Looking forward to reading your new and improved blog, even though I don’t know how you can improve what’s already great 😊.

    99to1percent recently posted…Our 6 Financial Mistakes and 15 Lessons Learned
    https://99to1percent.com/financial-mistakes-lessons-learned/

    • I probably didn’t learn as much as I could have because I barely attended sessions, but it was still highly worthwhile. And yeah, some fun parties. ;-)

  7. Tanja! You must be really tired! It was very nice to meet you. After Jonathan @ChooseFI introduced me at the Rustic to you, all I could say was “nice to meet you as Tanja” then my introvert self shut me down and didn’t say anything else, haha.

    I took so much away from FinCon, everybody was willing to share their best advice to anyone and everyone. Everyone that I was finally able to conversate with :) was very encouraging of new bloggers and their main advice was just to start!

    So my domain name is there, and now my launch date is by November 30th. I’m going to take everyone’s advice and “just start”

  8. It was great fun at FinCon. Your sessions were great and they definitely got me thinking. It was also great to meet all these internet celebrity bloggers (like yourself) and find out they are totally down to earth. My truly enjoyed the experience and my favorites were all the hallway conversations that I had while heading to the sessions.. Then ending not going to the session and talked instead. There are so much knowledge and love within the community.

    • That’s awesome! Glad you got value out of the sessions. :-D And YES, everyone is just a normal person who wants to meet you as much as you want to meet them.

  9. Yay congratulations, and if I were playing favorites I’d say OF COURSE you won for best blog! ;)

    Yeah the FOMO was real, even as a fairly new blogger, and I would definitely love to be at FinCon next year! (Better start saving up for that haha.) But despite the FOMO, there is definitely something to be said for the smaller community interactions. I love the larger meetups we do of the DC PF bloggers, but I’ve really been meaning to reach out to bloggers individually (both in DC and elsewhere) to build more of my personal community that way. I also try to make my blog a supportive place for anyone who wants to stop by and comment, and I’m all about replying to the comments since I’m so happy every time I get one!

    • Thanks so much, Erin! :-D I’m so glad you guys in DC do regular meetups, and I wholeheartedly support forging closer relationships with folks you connect with outside of the big meetups.

  10. The FIRE community is the primary reason I started a blog. I look forward to being able to meet people in person (I’ll admit to some serious FOMO this weekend), but in reality I don’t feel left out by interacting with people through blogs/twitter/forums/etc. On the other hand, the whole shindig looked like a lot of fun! Who knew yall could party so much…

    Congratulations on your win! You earned it.

    • Thanks, Dylan! :-) It absolutely WAS fun, but as you noted, there are so many other ways to interact with folks and find that community we all crave. I’m glad you put yourself out there!

  11. Does that mean *I* was the token for our panel??? :) It was fun to hang out again, meet some great people for the first time (like Mrs Frugalwoods!), and you’re right – you don’t need a big event to meet people. We’re all nearly internet friends first before we ever met. :)

    And congrats on the well deserved win!

  12. Sounds like you had a rest time at Fincon! It’s the only blogging conference I’ve attended and I’m glad to say I’ve gone 5 times now, haha. I wish we could have spoke more – you’re definitely one of my favorite bloggers!

    • I loved it! It was super different from my first one last year, but just as great. And that compliment means so much! Maybe we can meet up on the road after we are retired next year and have more time to chat without having to shout with hoarse voices! ;-)

  13. I was sad to miss out on FinCon this year, but you make a good point about finding other ways to connect. I’m determined to make it next year though, sounds like such an amazing experience.
    Congratulations on the PLUTUS win, the big reveal and all your incredible successes! You may have been surprised but I sure wasn’t 😉

    • Thanks so much, Sarah! I really appreciate that! :-D And I think you’ll find it is money well spent if you go next year — but like you said, don’t limit yourself to thinking of FinCon as the only way to connect with our awesome community!

  14. I am a non-blogger and as far as community goes what I have found really lacking is FIRE blogs by Moms. The vast majority are written by men or child-free women. Now, I have no problem with that and obviously read this blog and many others for different perspectives, but it does feel a bit defeating that there appear to be so few people in my demographic working toward FIRE. My early retirement will be at a later age than many in the FIRE community as we have 2 kids who I hope to help through college, but I’d love to find more FIRE Moms rather than just more “couponing for Moms” which seems be 99% of money blogs by moms!!

  15. You deserve all the accolades,Tanja & Mark. Congrats on taking home the hardware and all the other cool stuff you guys got to see and do over the course of a busy four days! I’m glad we were able to meet, and appreciated the shout-out / call-out on Twitter. I had been waiting for a good time to approach you when you weren’t busy chatting up with your legions of fans — it was tough to find an opportunity!

    My biggest takeaway? I really like my new friends. This is my second year as a blogger, and I had only met a handful of y’all in person before, but FinCon felt like a class reunion where I was catching up with old friends all day long (and much of the night!). I’ve already purchased my FinCon18 ticket, booked the hotel, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be attending the Orlando conference as a family of four. My boys should both be over 48″ tall by then, which is a key measure for maximum theme park enjoyment.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • Thanks, my friend! It was awesome to meet you in person finally! :-) And you’re totally overstating it — there weren’t ever lines of anyone waiting to talk to me. ;-) Hahaha. So glad you enjoyed FinCon — class reunion is a perfect way to describe it! (And that especially resonates with me since I keep accidentally calling our retirement “graduation.”) ;-) Hope to see you next year, if not sooner!

  16. Takeaway: 1% of the time provided incredible value. A couple random conversations led to some amazing advice/ tips.

    The other 99% of the time (beer, BBQ, parties, vulgar stickers) wasn’t helpful, but sure was fun. I also learned that you’re fast. This is motivation to keep myself in shape so I can escape.

    And everything that you and Liz did was stellar. Both of you should be keynoters in 2018.

    • Ha! 100% agree. I think I probably got less value out of this FinCon, but had as much or more fun compared to last year. ;-)

      Also glad you learned that I’m fast at sea level… just think, if we teamed up, we could beat everyone with our altitude lungs! ;-)

      And thanks for that nice compliment — I was honored to get to join the group, and it means a ton to be mentioned alongside anything Liz does!

      • This is a bad trend. Next year, my value will be .01%. Ugggh!

        And hey, I was just thinking about something. Once you’re all retired, Our Next Life will be obsolete. Unless, you’ve got a secret Life 3.0 all charted out.

        Hey, wait a second! Ummmmmmm: *looks in mirror, shakes head, sighs…*

        So yeah, same thing applies to me. Duh!

  17. Yay! It was great to meet you and my other blogger friends in real life! I left FinCon thinking through a whole new direction and feeling more comfortable asking people for help. I knew that the PF/FI community was nice and cooperative, but meeting people in person really drove that home. Everyone was great and it was like hanging out with old friends.

    “We do not need big organized events to engage with our community.”

    I definitely need to spend time hanging with the DC folks on a regular basis. There’s a solid community of us and it didn’t really hit home until meeting people in Dallas.

    • It was awesome to meet you in real life, Matt! And so glad you felt the FinCon love in a big way — it truly is an incredible community, and I love that so many new folks got to feel that this year! And I love even more that you left with renewed resolve to build the DC community even more — there’s so much value to all of us when we do that!

  18. “Be the token, and bring a friend.”

    Love that and I know you will rock the crap out of it.
    Thanks for an awesome run down on the event, the timing of your reveal, the features and then this event…just a bit of sensory overload for you guys. Couldn’t be happier for you

  19. Fincon was pretty sweet for sure! I’m having fun watching everyone’s faces when they ask, “You lost your voice at a finance conference? That’s a lot of talking!” I only had one person say, “Well, you are a talker…” :)

    While it was great getting to meet up with everyone all in one place, I have gotten a lot out of joining a FIRE mastermind, and meeting other bloggers and PF types around town. It doesn’t have to be such a production to meet people.

    Congrats on your award!

    • Ha! Yeah, no one understands how taxing FinCon is if they haven’t been! I’m so glad you’ve found an awesome mastermind and have met folks locally. Completely agree it doesn’t have to be a production or big expense at all.

  20. By all accounts I’ve read, sounds like FinCon was amazing! Congratulations on your win–it is definitely well-deserved! And how nice to see your real face in the photos this year:)

  21. Agreed, the community is amazing. I read all the posts from everyone who had gone before talking about the open, friendly vibe, and while I had high hopes that was true it went way beyond what I ever expected.

    There were some great sessions — and I have to go back and watch a ton more — but the most inspiring thing for me was just to see that all these other bloggers I read and tweet at and generally think are just on another level are still just regular awesome people. It just confirms that my amazing personal finance Twitter feed is filled with really amazing people.

    I can’t wait to get back at it and talk about what’s been and what’s next with everyone at FinCon18. And thanks for sharing the club lounge coffee hookup!

    • So glad we got to hang out! (And that I could get you a little club lounge benefit.) ;-) You are so completely right: even the bloggers who seem “famous” are regular folks who are thrilled to hang out with the community. I was reminded of this once again, and it made me super happy.

  22. I’m always torn on whether to attend ‘next year’ but man, we are like 0 for 5 on FinCon since we started blogging in 2012.

    Maybe some day. I definitely feel like we’re missing out!

  23. I appreciate your point about not trying to do something that someone else does only better, but to find your unique contribution. I don’t plan to become an FI blogger; I do, however, hope to blog more about stuff that is my schtick.

    Also, I don’t know all the different aspects of monetizing one’s blog, but what drew in to your blog, to some degree, is that it wasn’t monetized. I think that now that I’m hooked on your blog, I don’t think I’d be concerned about you monetizing (and of course it is your choice). I just think that the choice not to monetize may be one reason people like and trust your blog.

    • I think you’re 100% right that people do have a different level of trust when it’s clear that I’m not doing it for the money — and that isn’t going to change here! I want to cover costs on the podcast (and to make my cohost some money, since she’s not FI yet), but I feel completely privileged to let this be a labor of love. :-)

  24. Tanja, great meeting you in person. Mark was one of my favorite people there – you have an awesome husband. Congratulations once again, and fantastic job moderating that panel, too – you’re a pro.

    FinCon was even better than I expected, and my expectations were high.

    • Great meeting you in person, too! And yeah, Mark is rad. I’m kind of a fan. ;-) Thanks for the congrats and wonderful compliment! I’m so glad you felt FinCon was a good investment of your time and money. :-D

  25. Glad you had fun! I wish I could have been there too, maybe next year! I loved your interview with the choosefi podcast! I must confess that I did not know who you were before listening to it but now I’m definitely going to binge read your articles!

      • I noticed that you have 100 links in every article so I knew your content is huge but I have a 10 hour flight in a couple of days so I’ll have something to read so thank you!

        • Well people cant say you’re not organised and don’t share! I hope my blog will one day have as much content as yours but it just turned one month today but blogs like yours teach me cool stuff everyday!

        • That’s true! ;-) And just take it one post at a time — I’d never have imagined that I’d have this much content EVER when I started out. ;-)

        • Yes, I have a million ideas though but I like to do some research, talk to people to get different POV. Quality over quantity! You know jonathan from choosefi also agreed to be interviewed when he gets back from his vacations so hopefully that will create some traffic! I’d to interview successful podcasters and bloggers on top of writing!

        • Im a bit of a perfectionnist but I also know that I need to post regularly if i want to keep my readers! I need to optimise the time i spend reading other blogs, researching and writing! It is exciting to learn all that though! Quick question, do you often do interviews or was thechoosefi one the first and last one?(in one word is there any chance to convince you to do an interview with me, I feel I could learn from you and people in general could benefit too)!

        • I’ll add that posting regularly also makes you better at it because you build the writing muscle! I am happy to do interviews, but am a bit overwhelmed by the to do list at the moment — could we talk in the new year? ;-)

        • For sure! I would be honoured to interview you and by then I’ll have read more of your content so I can ask you smart questions! Im researching whether or not I should start a podcast to “host” my interviews! This is so exciting! If you have time to visit my blog and leave a constructive comment or too if appreciate it! Thanks for everything ;)

  26. Congrats again on your well deserved win! It was a pleasure meeting you and Mark at the costume party, I tried to meet you earlier in the week but the lines were too long. ;) I enjoyed the panel sessions I attended and all the time outside of the actual conference enjoying new friendships.

    Great advice about connecting with others outside of FinCon, that has done me so much good.

    • You know there weren’t really lines to meet me. ;-) LOL But I’m glad we got to meet at the costume party! (And crash each other’s pictures of the J$ lookalikes!) So glad you were able to attend this year, and I hope you can find lots of other opportunities to connect with folks outside of FinCon!

  27. If only I still had the silver makeup on my hands for that shot — still epic, though!

    100% on the community and bringing people together aspects of FinCon. I more often than not skipped sessions to hang out with amazing people more. 😀

    • You’re the only one noticing your hands. ;-) And you made the right call skipping sessions to chat — you can watch the sessions later, but can’t replace that time to connect in person! Soooooo glad we got to hang out!!!

  28. Hah my above comment was totally useless since I only had time to mention one other mom who blogs about FI in some way ;D

    I had a TON of fun this year in a very different way from last year. I learned less in the way of mechanical blogging type information and had a more relaxed conference just enjoying the company of people I’ve spent a lot of time talking to this past year. Bonus, got a little reminder that there’s value in my blog beyond my own personal use. Even if Felicity did abuse her insider knowledge about how I feel about living statues ;)

    • Same with me! Learned a lot less but found tons of value in other ways. And yeah, just friend time counts for a lot! (And lol on the living statues…) ;-)

  29. Congrats on the award! That’s huge!

    I will definitely be there next year! Unless of course the government stops me from going. But I’m 99% sure I’ll be there! The envy I felt watching all the live updates was REAL – you all looked like you were having an incredible time. I *may* have already checked out the airline tickets and AirBnB situation in Orlando…

    • Thank you so much! I still can’t believe I won… not because I’m not proud of the blog, but I’ve never won anything based on popularity in my life. Hahahaha ;-) And I hope you can go next year! It really is as fun as it looks — like the best possible kind of class reunion. :-)

  30. This has been a pretty stellar year (and even just month) for you! It’s a well-deserved award – your long-form posts have been consistently amazing. I’m looking forward to the podcast, although, now I know there’s a chance this is the first podcast I’ll have to slow down rather than speed up.

    The biggest downside for me has been the difficulty in explaining it to anyone in the outside world. “You went to a finance conference?” (person with furrowed brow). Luckily there’s a support system online. :)

    • Gosh, that is the truth! What a year. :-) Thanks for your kind note here, and your kind words in person. They all mean a ton. :-) And I promise I’ll try not to talk so fast in the podcast! ;-)

  31. So truly awesome to meet you guys and congrats on the best FIRE blog award along with everything else that’s been going right for you… you guys deserve it!

    This was my first FinCon and I went in slightly nervous not having met anyone face-to-face before that would be attending. However, this might have been the best event I’ve ever been to (disclaimer on my marriage and birth of my daughter).

    A lot of the sessions were very good (especially both of yours!). However, I enjoyed talking with everyone more than anything. I’m blown away by how easily the discussions went and the friendships that were made… it almost made me want to shave my head into a Mohawk like J$! ;-)

    Can’t wait until next year!

    — Jim

      • I assume you’ve seen his blog recap by now, but his wife and daughter’s reactions cracked me up. ;-) So awesome to meet you in person! I hope we can get more than five seconds to chat at a time sometime soon!

    • It was so awesome to hang out with you, Jim! And man, you have some guts. ;-) Thanks for coming to my sessions — it was terrific seeing friendly faces there! And I’m so glad you had such a great time. It really is amazing how much magic happens when you just get all of us in the room together. ;-)

    • Thank you! And it’s really not that intimidating if you can muster up the courage to say hello to just a few folks — or just do what I did at my first one and attach yourself to an extrovert who will do the introductions for you. ;-)

  32. Thanks for the visual insight into Fincon! I was there in spirit with Mr PIE, and very envious that he got to meet so many cool folks. I was doing my best to follow it all on Twitter! Who knows, maybe we’ll both make it there together one of these years

    • Please tell Mr. PIE again how much I loved meeting him! And I hope my “Hello!” made it back to you. ;-) I do hope we can all meet up one of these days, preferably on a ski slope!

    • Thanks so much, Erik! It was great to meet you (finally!), and hope we can chat for more than a minute at a time at an upcoming event. ;-)

    • Thanks, Chris! I loved meeting you, too, and hope we can get more time to chat at some point soon — FinCon is never enough time!

  33. Congrats on the award, this is the only blog I read (never really cared for others but I will check out the ones you recommended). Thank you for all you do for addressing the lack of women presence in the FI world.
    In Milwaukee I am lucky enough to belong to a local group, we meet about once every month or two and I belong to a couple FI geared facebook groups but you had some great suggestions I will look into.

    • Thanks so much for that crazy nice compliment, Kelly! :-) That’s so awesome that you have a local FI group for in-person camaraderie! And the FB groups, too! Sounds like you’ve got a pretty terrific network already!

  34. Wow brilliant to see pics with so many of my favourite bloggers in a room together! Glad you had such a good time at FinCon, enjoyed the recap and many congrats on your Plutus Award. Maybe next year I’ll finally make it to FinCon from England – could do with taking some of Nicole’s advice to make that happen.

  35. What a great event! Congrats to you guys on all that’s going great for you right now! You’ve definitely been working hard! The conversations were definitely easier to start and keep going then I thought they’d be! Definitely looking forward to Orlando next year!

    • Thanks so much, Steven! :-D So glad you had a positive experience and had the “class reunion” vibe going for you at FinCon. ;-)

  36. I’m so glad that you were appropriately lauded! And I want to co-sign meeting up with other PF folks, even if you don’t blog. It’s lovely. People are interesting, and you get good ideas.

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